Our often hyperbolic correspondent Elizabeth offers her rebuttal to the apparently unshakable conviction of commenter Xenophon that the needs of school discipline justify schools punishing students for a personal blog or Facebook post, in this case, one critical of a teacher. Here is her Comment of the Day on the post Better Late Than Never: The ACLU Finally Opposes the High School War On Off-Campus Speech:
“…This kid wrote one post to ten friends only. He did not put it out for all to see. Apparently if the ACLU is willing to defend him he didn’t threaten/defame the teacher or anyone else, disrupt the school, or cause anything other than some kind of righteous anger on the part of one teacher, who, immaturely, went to “higher authorities” to have him “disciplined.” Ever had a teacher you didn’t like or who didn’t like you? Are you old enough to remember passing notes in class? It’s no different; just electronic. This is the classic and relatively new hubris of the education system… and the examples are sickening. Did you read about the middle school that provided free computers to kids and then monitored them by implanted cameras in their own homes!! Is THAT okay? Is that the school’s right?
“What if this kid wrote ten letters on paper to his ten friends about the teacher? What prerogative would the school have been then?
“Xenophon says: “…He is not exactly a customer inasmuch as the outcome of his education is based partly on teacher effort but even more on his own. It’s somewhat unique, but like any other organization, defamatory or insulting speech tends to subvert authority–…” Then bravo to this kid. His school and school system obviously has its own subverted definition of its authority, and he has every right to say so. The school has absolutely no “authority” over the thinking and speech of a student on his own time and in his own home. Period.”
“Xenophon also says that this “subversion” of the school’s authority would “undermine the overall mission.” Define overall mission, if you will. Teach kids facts, teach the tests, keep them in line and never, ever allow them to make a statement against the prevailing “authority?” If this view was the prevailing one in 18th century America, there would never had been an American Revolution and or a United States. Put into a historical context, Xenophon’s comments are extremely alarming.”